Denver’s defense deserves all the praise
What is it about Denver’s defense that makes it so good, especially its ability to get to the quarterback?
Matt Ryan: “Well, I think it’s an excellent defense. I think they’re talented across the board, and the front seven has some really good playmakers, some speed rushers, solid linebacker play and then in the back end, talented corners, very good safeties. So [they're] very talented across the board, very sound in their scheme. They play well, they’re opportunistic, very good at getting the ball and taking it away, so we’re going to have our work cut out for us. It’s certainly going to test; it’s tested a lot of quarterbacks. … One of the things they do best is get after the passer. You have to be patient. I think the key is to be decisive with your decision-making. You also have to understand that they’re going to get you and they’re going to make plays. We’ve got to overcome some of those plays and make sure that we’re not making mistakes and putting ourselves in a bad position."
Dan Quinn: “Growing up as a defensive coach, I certainly have a great regard for the defense. Honestly, it’s just winning your matchups, whether you’re an offensive player of a defensive player, it’s owning those matchups that come. You don’t always know when they’re going to come in a game. It could be in the first quarter, where the offense takes a shot down the field and makes a big one, but it’s winning those matchups. To me, it’s really where that—it never comes down to just the defense or just the offense so when you’re really firing in all cylinders as a team, that’s the teams that are hardest to deal with.”
What challenges does Denver’s balanced attack of outside and inside rushers present?
Quinn: “They’re built differently for sure. On the outside edges, that’s where so many things can be disrupted, when you’re facing Denver. With Carolina the passes right down the middle, it’s big guys inside and the two inside linebackers and the strength of the safeties. We totally recognized the uniqueness that they have based on the rush abilities that they have not only on the outside, but now with the addition of the way [DE Derek] Wolfe’s playing inside. The speed that they have at linebacker and all of the experience and savviness and technique that the secondary plays with, we know that we have our hands full. They probably play more man-to-man than Carolina does. The two you’re looking to compare from, it’s quite a bit different from Carolina to Denver in terms of looking at two schemes.”
Ryan: “I think when you have the combination of both, it makes it really difficult. When you can kind of focus in on one area, it allows you to be a little more stout in pass protection, but when you’ve got it coming from the inside, coming from the outside — both sides — that’s where it becomes a tall task for our offensive line. We know they’re very good both outside and inside and we’re going to have to be prepared and play well."
Stopping "Sackmaster" Miller
How is Von Miller able to disrupt opposing offenses single-handedly?
Ryan: “He’s got great get-off, he’s extremely fast. He has multiple moves. He’s relentless. That’s the other thing you see: He’s super-talented but he plays to and through the whistle. He has been really, really tough to handle for a lot of teams for the last couple of years.
Quinn: “As a rusher, first, it starts with the get-off. He’s got a terrific first step and then he has the ability to shake a guy. OK, so you’re worried about his power, you’re ready to sit on that and then he could slip you. You’re worried about his speed and then he can convert to power. It’s kind of like the baseball pitcher that can throw the fastball by you, then you’re waiting on the fastball and here comes the change-up where you’re [like], ‘Man, I wasn’t ready for that.’ His uniqueness to balance one versus the other is great. He’s got real ability to bend around the corner where he can slip and get underneath the block. Probably a combination of those two things makes him such a unique player.”
JULIOOOO vs. Talib is going to be a competitive matchup
Do you target Julio Jones or is the connection natural and how does that change against a good defense?
Ryan: "We’re going to try and go to the right spots in our progressions and in our reads. We trust all of our guys to go out there and make plays. Obviously, Julio is special, so when he is primary or secondary or whatever and he gets the opportunity to get the ball in his hands, he’s tough to stop and tough to bring down. Going against this secondary, I think they’re very good across the board. Again, we’re going to have to be at our best, run really good routes, throw it and catch it well and when we get the opportunities to make some big plays, we’ve got to take advantage of that."
How much do you balance your trust in Julio vs. the risk of a playmaker like Aqib Talib?
Ryan: “Aqib’s a great player. I’ve known him for a long time. Obviously, he started out down in Tampa so we would see them twice a year. He’s extremely talented, great ball skills. He’s got a great knack, very football-savvy. He’s electric when he gets the ball in his hands, too, so you have to understand he’s capable of making a lot of plays. He’s got great instinct, but I trust Julio against everybody that we go against. He’s a great player and I believe he can get it done every week."
Siemian and Lynch both present challenges
How are you preparing for both Trevor Siemian and potentially Paxton Lynch?
Quinn: “We’re preparing for both. Really, we’re preparing for the passing game. That’s what you look at first: Here are the routes, here are the combinations and then when you get into the pass game, you start there first. Then, the uniqueness of the quarterback, you have to go and study, is he a passer that wants to get out of the pocket and scramble, is he someone that would target a specific player or look down a certain player? We’re into the scheme now and as you get further on in the week, you go back and forth and you can prepare the players for uniqueness that a quarterback may have, but the first order of business is understanding the route combinations of the five guys and how they’re being deployed.”